Friday, May 18, 2007

The Eternal Hunt of the Ephemeral

I thought I might as well put this very short story up here for all to read as I'm not sure what else to do with it. Think of it as a one of those free tidbits you get when dining out. Any responses will be, as always, welcome.

The Eternal Hunt of the Ephemeral

By Adam J. Shardlow

He shifted his body, turning from his bruised shoulder on to his back, intrigued as to what he might find.
A fire crackled someway off casting the surrounding trees into eldritch shadows that appeared to dance and spin in a parody of the plague dance. The flames gave off little heat but illuminated the face of the bearded man who nodded in his direction. He recognised the hunter and retuned a cadaver grin while secretly testing the bonds that held him captive. They held fast and his gaoler looked away.
A titter of manic laughter passed his sharp yellow teeth making the hunter scowl. The man was old and grizzled though he secretly knew that they had been born the same year. The slipping sands were taking their toll on his adversary as much as they were leaving him unmolested. He knew the hunter was tired, as soon as he fell asleep he would slip his knots and disappear quietly into the night to be born again, to love again, carouse again. He thought of his short sweet life, and laughed again.
He relaxed, conserving strength as the memories returned with a sudden jolt causing an expression of pleasure to pass across his delicate features. This was not how it was meant to end. His adventures had been too soon curtailed by this capture. He still had so much to do; his was a life that demanded to be lived. He blazed like star gas; a conflagration of deeds that he was not yet ready to renounce, they ached for action. The occasion of this existence had been but a fleeting punch into the world, the merry jig he had led his hunter a mere diversion still awaiting the main event.

He watched his captive with a quiet disdain from his seat by the fire. He felt old and exhausted but dared not close his eyes for fear the prisoner would once more disappear, a return to the chase that would drag on forever.
He had spent too much time on the road. This was but one of many winters he could remember, long dark expanses of frost bitten darkness, where the chill invaded his bones and refused to leave, the only accompanying sound the baying of the forever hungry wolf packs. After the shadow time the seasons seemed to merge, endless spring, summer and autumn flickered by, the tracks harder to follow but the journeying easier on body and soul. His prey always ahead of him, over the next mountain, in the next town, across the sea and desert where the winds blew eternally and the even the footsteps of the largest of creatures were wiped clean, the land both sterile and timeless. He had endured the eternal pursuit of this trickster but it had taken its toll both mentally and physically. He stroked his beard and wished for the timeless hunt to end.

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